Mohamad Jebara -- also known as The Cycling Cleric -- serves as Chief Imam at the Cordova Spiritual Education Center. Young, dynamic and married, with two children, his Friday sermons are filled with love and compassion for humanity and he ridicules the notion that God can be viewed as a "bogeyman." This Friday, September 5, Mohamad will cycle from Ottawa to Quebec City. I connected with him to find out more about his ride and asked him his take on Islam and Muslims in light of recent world events.
Imam Mohamad Jebara
Salaams Mohamad. Describe your ride.
I will be cycling from Ottawa to Quebec City. The goal is to raise awareness regarding heart health, and encourage everyone to become more active, while raising funds for The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
What was your inspiration?
I want to see change! True change must come from within. Neither incantation, nor supplication alone can make a difference. In reaching any goal, one must push oneself to move, especially when one feels paralyzed and devoid of energy. This requires a strong spirit. Indeed, it is worse than slaughter to break a person's spirit, crush their hopes, and extinguish their drive. Conversely, to uplift a person's spirit, resurrect their hope, and rejuvenate their drive is the greatest form of saving lives.
I hope that my trip will inspire and uplift others, especially in faith communities to extend a loving hand to the world, simply for the love of, and care for humanity.
What are your Islamic values?
The underlying spirit of Traditional Islamic Orthodoxy is founded upon three essential factors: love, happiness and beauty. Despite the stereotypes, the more "Islamic" a person becomes the more loving, happier and beautiful they should become.
I feel the entire world is my home, and all people are my family. I welcome all, regardless of race, culture, creed, religion, or lack thereof, so long as people are kind, honest and sincere.
I believe that which unites us is far greater than that, which divides us. Unity does not mean that we must become homogenous or monolithic while discarding our uniqueness. True unity lies in accepting one another, despite our differences and treating one another with honour, dignity, respect, compassion and love.
How do you view justice in Islam?
Islam revolves around balance, justice and rights. We are taught to be balanced and just in giving all their rights: God, your body, family, society, humanity, the environment and all creation.
It is reflected in the Sacred Law which states, "To swear at an animal, is to degrade the animal, and to degrade an animal is a sin." If that is the case with animals, what then should be the case with human beings?
What is your vision or dream for Muslim communities everywhere and the global community as a whole?
My dream is to see Muslim communities rise from the slumber and darkness of ignorance and intolerance to embrace the illumination of deep understanding, compassion, respect and love, which are the essence of Traditional Islam. I want the world to know us as Muslims, by our high morals, respect, love, compassion, acceptance of people for who they are and graciousness and not by the stereotypes, which are unfortunately founded upon the extreme practices of a small, outspoken, minority drenched in superstition, backwardness, ignorance, hatred, abuse, and destruction.
How can those who have taken on a leadership role in our communities do this?
People are looking for action. A successful leader is one who inspires goodness in others, through taking the lead role to embody the virtue they wish to see in others. Words are easy to compose, but it is essential that they manifest in our deeds. If one wishes to promote friendship, peace and love, they must first act upon the principles they preach, before they can expect anyone else to follow.
What practical steps do you suggest?
Charity commences with those closest to us: our family, neighbours, friends, colleagues and those who inhabit our land. When you cook, make a little extra and share with your neighbour. Smile and greet all people you see. Be extra kind to people you don't know- they may be suffering and alone. When you see someone in need, offer to assist. Open doors for people, offer to help an elderly person carry their groceries. "Little" things have the greatest impact.
How do we keep our youth on the peaceful path - the vast majority of whom are great citizens?
To the youth, I say:
Keep smiling, life is grand,
Too much thought, makes life bland,
Only take of life, what you can stand,
No matter who we are, we all need a hand,
One musician, cannot replace a band,
Don't attempt to live in the air, when God made you for land,
Don't underestimate your value, precious crystal, is made of common sand.
Is a backlash against us Muslims inevitable if events in the Muslim world continue on this course?
In the company of our fellow Canadians - many of whom are civilized, intelligent and open-minded people, we should fear no major "backlash". They can distinguish between "extremists", who are the personification of pure wickedness and the everyday "Joe" Muslim, who is merely a human being, not much different from themselves.
Or "Aisha" Muslim.
Will you be making any stops along the way?
Why did you choose The Heart and Stroke Foundation?
Charity begins close to home. I chose Heart & Stroke due to the fact that heart-related diseases, both spiritual and physical, are on the rise, because of many factors, ranging from diet, insufficient exercise, and/or to lifestyle.
Good luck and have a safe and successful ride bro.